Sunday, September 29, 2013

When a Writer Goes to the Hospital...

Congratulations to "Ada", the winner of Melissa's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Melissa Cutler here, and I'm so excited to be on Just Contemporary Romance today talking about my latest contemporary western romance, COWBOY JUSTICE.

Earlier this week, I was all set to write this post about cowboy romances and how much I love Sheriff Vaughn Cooper’s intense, angsty road to forever with Rachel Sorentino, the cowgirl who stole his heart, when I was hit by a sudden case of appendicitis. Less than twenty-four hours after that first symptom I was having an emergency appendectomy. Talk about my week going in a different direction than I’d planned!
But because I’m a writer at heart, I was able to step back from myself while in the hospital and absorb all kinds of little details and emotions that I’m sure will work their way into future books. From the interactions between nurses and patients, to the sounds in the hallway, to the sights of families gathered together around their sick loved ones.

My appendix was taken out without any complications and I’m at home recuperating now. (My appendectomy surgeon, Dr. King, happened to be young and super handsome, by the way.) But my experience really got me thinking about hospitals and the important role they play in our lives. So many milestones take place in hospitals, from births to sickness and death. They can be places of healing or places in which everything seems to be falling apart.

In the first book of my Catcher Creek series, THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS, a very significant part of the story takes place in the hospital. I drew inspiration for that scene from my experience when my mother-in-law passed away. It was very cathartic to be able to tap into the experience for my book and give authenticity to what my characters were going through.

The second chapter of COWBOY JUSTICE takes place in Rachel’s hospital room after she’s injured in Chapter One. She and Vaughn have an intense exchange about why she got in a firefight with a group of trespassers in chapter one. Since I have hospitals on my mind, I thought I’d share an excerpt of that scene with you here today.

Enjoy this scene from Cowboy Justice:

"Rachel, please. What were the four men doing while you climbed the mesa?" Vaughn asked.
She rubbed her eyes and turned away from him. "Smoking dope, reloading their rifles, joking around."

"They didn't know you were coming to confront them?"

She huffed. "I wasn't coming to confront them. I was coming to shoot them."

"Jesus, Rachel, you can't tell me stuff like that." He flexed his hand and glanced at the closed hospital room door. His lips grew twitchy, and she knew he was deliberating some important choice. "Let's stop talking about what happened today."

She didn't understand his worry, but felt too weak from her gunshot wound to question him about it. "Okay."

"Has anything like this ever occurred on your ranch before? The graffiti or the people trespassing?"

She shrugged, then grunted when it sent a stab of pain through her injured arm. "A dozen or so times in the past four months. I kept photographic records on my camera and computer. I'll hand the pictures over to you."

He stared at her for a heartbeat, then vaulted from his seat and yanked the privacy curtain around her bed. "A dozen times? And this is the first I'm hearing about it?"

"It was no big deal."

In a flash, he was leaning over her, his fists punching the pillow on either side of her head, his expression livid. She flinched. Not that she was one to cower, but it was unbearable, having him close enough for her to catch the scent of his aftershave and feel his breath on her face. She wanted to look at his eyes—his eyes alone broke her heart—but she held herself in check, and instead stared down her body, to the place where his tie brushed her chest.

"I have my reasons," she whispered.

"Is it because of you and me?" His voice was even lower than hers, a note on the wind. With his hand on her jaw, he held her face until she met his eyes. "Is that it? You didn't want me anywhere near you? Is that why you risked your life, because you were too proud to ask me for help?"

If only. But pride had nothing to do with it. She held his gaze, wondering if he could see the truth in her eyes.

From the Back Cover:

She can’t help but fall for the sexy town sheriff—again…
Rachel Sorentino has spent her whole life protecting her siblings from trouble—only to run headlong into it herself. Her first regret about shooting at the vandals targeting her family is that her aim wasn't better. Her second is that when bullets started flying, it was Sheriff Vaughn Cooper's number she dialed. Vaughn is the mistake she keeps on making, a cowboy lawman who cuts through Rachel's surface bravado to the vulnerability no one else sees. And no matter how inconvenient their attraction—for his career, her tangled case, and their already battered hearts—there's no denying what feels so irresistibly right…

COWBOY JUSTICE is in stores now:
Walmart: (*paperback on sale for $4.19 with Free Shipping*) 
COWBOY JUSTICE Launch Party: I’m hosting a virtual party on October 2nd in celebration of Cowboy Justice’s release. Join me for a Q&A, lots of prizes, laughter, and hot cowboy eye candy. Here’s a link to the party page on Facebook: I hope to see you there!

I'm giving away a digital copy of the first book in the Catcher Creek series, THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS, to one commenter, so tell me—what’s your most vivid memory of a hospital?

My thanks to Maureen and Just Contemporary Romance for hosting me today. I love hearing from readers and am really easy to find at, on Facebook ( ), and Twitter (@m_cutler). And you can always email me at  or sign up for my newsletter ( to find out about my latest books and upcoming events.

Melissa Cutler knows she has the best job in the world, dividing her time between her dual passions for writing sexy contemporary romances and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for Harlequin, Kensington Books, and Penguin. She was struck at an early age by an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she's not globetrotting, she's enjoying Southern California's flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 30th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. If the winner is outside of North America, the book may not available due to copyright restrictions.


  1. Ohh this sounds like a fabulous read! :)

    I remember a time that I stupidly put myself there - on a dare during a field trip, I made the dumb decision to jump into this pond off a dock. Everyone was doing this and the water was clear, it didn't look very deep but given that I am not a swimmer, it was just one of those stupid kids decisions. Anyways, I ended up getting taken to this little town hospital which was like 2 rooms and I just remember puking up a gallon of water that I sucked into me before I was dragged out of the water. I can't even remember the doctors/nurses but that I had to wear my teachers spare sweats home on the bus and they were like folded 100 times because I've always been on the short side. Needless to say, I've smartened up some since then and haven't had any visits to the hospital since!

    ahui89 at hotmail dot com

    1. Oh man, what a story. I'm so glad people were there to drag you out of the water!

  2. I hope you are fully recovered Melissa. I remember being in the hospital before my mother-in-law passed away. It is such a different feeling when the staff knows that there is little hope. Everyone is so quiet around you.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

    1. That was my impression when we were there to say good-bye to my mother-in-law, too. The quiet and how kind everyone was. I'm sorry for your family's loss.

  3. I had to be admitted for surgery on an emergency basis. If you've never done that, you don't know the joys of that process. While my situation was serious, it wasn't life threatening so I had to be "fit" in. That meant I waited from 11:00 am until finally 7:30 pm, meanwhile not having anything to eat or drink for almost 12 hours. I went into surgery hungry, thirsty, and with a fierce headache, all creating a high level of anxiety. To top it off, they forgot to anesthetize me before going into the OR so I got to see the prep procedures. I finally begged them to put me out. Funny thing about wake up with the feelings you went under with so you can imagine what my initial moments were like in recovery. I learned a lot from that experience as my overall recovery was terrible, all stemming from the pre-op process. It's pretty incredible how your state of mind impacts the healing process.

    1. What a nightmare! I'm so glad you're okay. And you're totally right about how state of mind impacts our healing. *hug*

  4. Thank you for hosting me, Maureen. I'm feeling better every day and trying to take it easy, though I'm restless and impatient to be back to my usual self. Especially since it's COWBOY JUSTICE's release week.

    My first memory of a hospital was when I was five and my younger brother had his tonsils taken out. I remember being so jealous of the play room in the children's hospital and all the ice cream and jello he got to eat. I longed to get my tonsils out, too!

  5. Melissa,
    Hope you're feeling better and are fully recovered quickly. Since I'm a"older" Nursing student I've had "interesting" experiences in the hospital over the past couple of years. My only advice to everyone is to having a living will and designate a healthcare surrogate and durable power of attorney, when you are YOUNG and HEALTHY. It is the BEST thing you can do for your loved ones.

    My most memorable experience was when I was a little girl and my Mom's favorite cousin (and one of my favorite aunts) was hospitalized with ovarian cancer. This was years ago, when children had to be at least 12 years old, to visit patients. I was about 6 or 7 and really wanted to see her, so my parents "smuggled" me to the window of her room. My uncle opened the window and my Dad held me up so I could see and talk to her. It is even more vivid a memory than the two times I've been hospitalized. She passed away, but I was so happy I was able to see her and tell her how much she meant to me, even as a child.


  6. This past year has been nothing but hospital. My mom has been in and out of the hospital due to septic shock cause by her gall bladder. The doctors are still trying to stabilize her condition for surgery since sonic shock is not sufficient to blast that one stone that is still stuck in there. Now there is some complication with her weak heart. My sisters and I will be spending more time at the hospital and we are keeping our fingers crossed for the best.


    1. Kai, Just went through a gall blabber removal with my mum and were lucky with when she got into hospital because if they had waited any longer, it would have been big problems, You are in my prayers with your mum. Sam

  7. Hi Melissa, I hope you have a speedy recovery!

    My most vivid memory of hospital is that I don't like hospitals. I don't enjoy the sitting and waiting and stressing during surgeries. It's uncomfortable and unnerving until you hear the good news that the surgery is over. I just don't like them at all.

    1. Sorry, forgot my email


    2. You're not alone on that front, Anita. Thank you for stopping by the blog!


  8. My sister had to be rush in for a appendectomy after a night at work Christmas party, I was only a teenage and being nice and thoughtful person I was, I brought her a pink elephant and left it on her hospital bed table because she was still in and out from the operation, when she start to come to, she saw the pink elephant but the problem was, she didn't just see one but four of them, when Mum, Dad and Me went in that night, she had a go at my dad for the pink elephant because they were always pranking each other, so you can image the fun my dad had with it. As Promise Melissa, hope you don't laugh to hard.

    1. email is sbainrot@hotmail(dot}com

    2. That did make me laugh! Awesome story. I think I'll give pink elephant plushies to my hospitalized relatives from now on. lol. Love it!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  9. My most vivid memory was being in labor and opening my eyes after a big push to find the room full of people I hadn't met before. Hello baby. Goodbye dignity :-)

  10. My most memorable hospital moment was with my grandma. She was feisty and determined but, riddled with cancer. When she was finally hospitalized for the last time (although her common law husband and my mother didn't want to admit it) I couldn't stand seeing her in a coma and listening to everyone telling her to fight. After the fifth day, when all family members had been to see her, I talked my mom into going to lunch with a friend. I sat by grandma's side and told her everything in my heart about how much she had done for all of us and how much we loved her. Then I told her it was time to do something for herself. If she could hear me it was ok to let go. If she wanted to keep fighting it needed to be her choice, if she was tired I would take care of those left behind. Grandma passed away right as my mom came back through the door. I felt riddled with guilt until my grandma's roommate (that I wasn't even aware of due to grandma's closed curtains) called me to her bedside and introduced herself and her daughter. She then told her daughter that when her time came she wanted her daughter to remember me and do exactly as I had done because anything else would be about them, not her. That woman made a world of difference at that moment. I was able to mourn grandma without guilt or anger.

    Now that everyone is sad.... I have to say riding on a gurney with my legs spread in stirrups, naked from the waist down, with a nurse holding the head of my son trying to be born, down the maternity wards hallway was quite the moment too. The new and soon to be fathers faces were priceless.

    1. Sorry... ran out of room. :)
      Julie O
      jo1963jo at gmail dot com

    2. Not sad at all. What a beautiful story. Saying good-bye to the people we love is something that's a part of all our lives, but it's so hard to talk about and share. Thank you for sharing with us.

    3. You're welcome Melissa. Thank you for giving me a chance to remember grandma. Also, thank you for being an author. Without you and others my life would be so ordinary. Instead I get to meet feisty women and hot men. Phew.... hot men... thanks again. ;)

    4. Hot men get me going too, Julie! You're so welcome :)


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